RAWALPINDI, Sept 7: Authorities imposed Section 144 in the city on Friday as public excitement and fears over the PML-N’s plans to accord a hero’s welcome to its leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif in the city on their return from exile on Monday.
District Nazim Raja Javed Ikhlas said in a statement that Section 144 was imposed “to control law and order situation” in the city.
Rangers and Punjab Police Constabulary contingents have been called in from outside to assist the city police and the Airport Security Force “to maintain law and order and public peace”.
Section 144, which prohibits the assembly of five or more persons at public places, is the latest in the measures taken by the authorities to bust the PML-N plans to receive the Sharif brothers at Islamabad Airport and take him in a procession all the way to Lahore, their bastion of power.
They are likely to arrive by Thai Air at 1:30pm on Monday.
Police have detained some 50 local party leaders in the past few days, and had been hunting for more. On Friday it impounded motorcycles of at least 100 party activists.
PML-N sources, however, claimed more than 200 of their leaders have been arrested and about 800 motorcycles lifted. Still the party is determined to bring hundreds of thousands of supporters to greet the Sharif brothers.
Fears of a clash between the welcoming crowds and security forces on the occasion have risen since an anti-terrorism court in Lahore issued warrant of arrest for Shahbaz Sharif and there were rumours that the National Accountability Bureau might do same for Nawaz Sharif.
It was also being speculated that the authorities may direct the airliner bringing the two brothers to land elsewhere and thus anger PML-N activists, who are likely to be swelled by workers of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal religious alliance.
In the developing scary situation schools situated in Islamabad airport area and Rawalpindi’s Cantonment have been closed for Monday.
Employees of the Khan Research Laboratory (KRL), situated near the airport, and its hospital at Kahuta, have been told to report to duty on Saturday, normally a weekly holiday for them, and enjoy holiday on Monday instead.